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Full text of "A history of Persia"

LII                   THE SELJUK TURKS
vast responsibilities of Empire, and his accession
no means unchallenged. His uncle, Kaward, march
Rei, and at Karaj, to the south of Hamadan, a desperate
battle was fought which lasted for three days and three
nights before the pretender was defeated. Meanwhile
Altigin, the Khan of Samarcand, had invaded the Empire,
and in another quarter Ibrahim of Ghazna captured
his uncle, Othman ; but Ibrahim was pursued and routed
by the Amir Gumushtigin, whose servant, Anushtigin, was
destined to found the dynasty of the Khwarazm Shahs or
Kings of Khiva. Supported by the Nizam-ul-Mulk,
Malik Shah weathered all these storms of state, together
with the rebellion of a brother, and five years after his
accession he was in a position to extend still farther the
bounds of the Empire. His generals subdued the greater
part of Syria and Egypt in the west, while in the east
they not only conquered Bokhara and Samarcand, but
received tribute from the Prince of Kashgar, who was
obliged to recognize Seljuk suzerainty on his coins.
The internal prosperity of the Empire increased under
the wise guidance of the Nizam-ul-Mulk. Among the
stories related of the famous Vizier is one that illustrates
both the extent of the Empire and his own efficiency.
The Nizam-ul-Mulk, it is said, paid the boatmen on
the Oxus by bills on Antioch, and the efficiency of his
financial policy was proved by the fact that they were
readily cashed. Science was fostered by the monarch,
who, himself a man of culture, founded the observatory
at Nishapur in which Omar Khayyam laboured with other
scientists to compute the new era which Malik Shah
inaugurated, and which was termed Jalali in his honour.
Moreover, the dynasty maintained its virility. The
Sultan was passionately fond of polo, so much so that he
played a match at Baghdad the day after his arrival at
the capital; he was equally fond of shooting and kept
a record of his bags of game. Malik Shah was seldom
at rest, but among the cities in the Empire his favourite
residence was Isfahan, which afterwards became the capital
of Persia under the Safayi dynasty. There he constructed
fine buildings and laid out sumptuous gardens.